Panthers sweep through county tourney

Panthers sweep through county tourney

Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 12:03 pm

By RANDY CAVIN
Press Sports
Martin Middle School took the titles in both championship games Thursday night in the Weakley County Middle School Tournament.
The Martin girls took home the crown by defeating the two-time defending county champions of Greenfield with a two-point victory. Meanwhile in the boys’ championship game, Martin cruised to an easy 65-31 win over Dresden.
In the girls’ title game, Regan Rushing hit the game-winning basket with 2:09 left in game that saw two teams play each other for the third time in a row for the county title.
In the boys’ title game, Martin jumped out to a big lead early in the game and never looked back, using their trademark pressure defense to create easy baskets.
Martin 23, G’field 21 (G)
Rushing’s basket broke a 21-all tie, and neither team could score over the final two minutes.
The Lady Lions managed to get a couple of shots off in the final two minutes of play but could not get the ball to drop.
For Martin (6-4) head coach Bethany Palmer, it is her first championship in her third year as head coach.
“This is my third year and third trip to the county championship with this team and my first win,” Palmer said. “All three trips have all been against Greenfield, so this one feels really good.”
Neither team could get an edge on each other until midway through the second period when Savanna Hodges put the Lady ’Jackets up with a short jump shot.
Kyndal Wiley hit 3-pointer at the top of the key with 2:15 to play to push the lead to four. One minute later, Katie McAlister gave Greenfield its biggest lead of the game with a 15-9 score after she hit a layup.
Greenfield (5-6) maintained the lead until Kaycie Moultrie hit a 3-pointer with 4:33 to play in the game to give the Lady Panthers a 21-19 lead. McAlister tied the game with a jump shot at the 3:50 mark, and then Rushing hit her game-winning shot one minute and 41 seconds later.
“Our girls came out and played OK,” Palmer said. “It was not our best game, but we were in a fight. I told them if we are going down, then we are going down swinging. They kept after it and we finally got ahead and got the job done.”
Kennedy Basham and Moultrie lead Martin with seven points each. Greenfield’s McAlister led all scorers with 10 points.
Lady Yellowjackets’ head coach Tori Liggett felt her team missed too many easy shots and that was the deciding factor of the game as both teams missed plenty of easy shots.
“It was a close game. We played very hard, but we missed too many easy buckets and you cannot do that against Martin,” Liggett said.
Martin 65, Dresden 31 (B)
It was the matchup many of the fans were waiting for with the two best boys’ teams in the county going head-to-head for the county championship.
It just did not turn out to be the close game many had expected.
The Panthers used their quickness and pressure defense to jump out on top of the Lions right from the start, and by the end of the first period held a 25-11 lead over Dresden.
Lions’ skipper Justin West had to use a timeout 1:50 into the game after the Panthers opened up a 6-0 lead on easy layups from Jason Hicks and Parker Beal.
It was in the second period the Panthers showed why they are undefeated, by using their stifling defense to hold the Lions to only three points.
While the defense was doing its job, the offense just kept on rolling. Ryan Williams scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the period, and Justin Johnson scored all six of his points for the game.
“We performed well and did what we have done all season,” Panther skipper Andy Sliger said. “We shared the ball and played good defense and used our athleticism. We didn’t want them to slow the game down or get into foul trouble. We wanted to play with a lead and at our pace.”
The Lions did get their offense going in the third period thanks to Alex Warren and Dylan Yates. Warren chipped in four points and Yates scored six of his team high eight points.
The Lions had to play without their head coach in the second half because he was ejected late in the first half after receiving back-to-back technical fouls.
“I shouldn’t have done that,” West said. “After that first foul I should have shut up, but I couldn’t bite my tongue. I was wrong for getting the second technical, but I was trying to argue my point. But I told Martin that they are probably the best middle school team I have seen in five years. We just could not slow them down, and they were too good for us.
Martin now stands at 10-0 and will play in the area-wide tournament in January. Dresden finishes out its season at 7-3. Published in The WCP 12.13.11

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